Correcting Racial Injustice: Forensic DNA Technology and the Exoneration of the Wrongfully Convicted

65 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2023

See all articles by Rocco D'Este

Rocco D'Este

University of Sussex

Noam Yuchtman

Center for the Protection of Human Rights (CPHR) - LSE

Abstract

We study the effects of laws streamlining access to post-conviction forensic DNA technology ("DNA laws"). We present a conceptual framework in which DNA laws' effects differ by race due to unequal access to non-DNA exoneration technologies. Consistent with the framework's predictions, we find that DNA laws: (i) increased DNA-based exonerations for Blacks and non-Blacks; (ii) increased total exonerations for Blacks, while non-Blacks exhibit substitution across exoneration technologies and smaller effects on total exonerations. We estimate that without DNA laws, around 100 wrongfully convicted Black Americans would have died in prison, with wrongfully convicted Blacks spending over 1,800 additional years imprisoned.

Keywords: racial inequality, criminal sentencing, legal institutions, technology and justice

JEL Classification: K40, J15, D63

Suggested Citation

D'Este, Rocco and Yuchtman, Noam, Correcting Racial Injustice: Forensic DNA Technology and the Exoneration of the Wrongfully Convicted. IZA Discussion Paper No. 16076, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4422828 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4422828

Rocco D'Este (Contact Author)

University of Sussex

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Noam Yuchtman

Center for the Protection of Human Rights (CPHR) - LSE

Oktobrova 65, 08001 Presov
Bratislava
Slovakia

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